this is me pleading for my country to love me

By Cheryl Tan

Red. Above me the bougainvillea shed their skins and
Waft tissue-thin into the afternoon rain. It appears
I have not brought an umbrella. I close my eyes.
The road and I collapse into one and I am now the
Tarmac my country’s engineers have used, dark
From use. I think I once saw my parents here.

Orange. I am sprouting feathers and taking to the
Sky. What is a country but its people? What is
Love but grandchildren and Confucianism,
The sun a bloody yolk from the Mid-Autumn
Festival. I am greedy. I reach out with liver-spotted
Hands, and Singapore breaks into three syllables.

Yellow. Oh, Singapura. Singapore. Sin-ga-pore.
In the folds of Becca D’Bus’s costume there is an
Island sunny and free, set alone in the sea. Near the
Zebra crossing there is a gantry. I watch a man
Walk past it and the divide narrowly misses him. He
Jumps. I think of running Japun terus ke Malaysia.

Green. Anything, honestly. Anywhere, honestly.
I turn into a fly, fly-on-the-wall, fly-on-a-swatter
At my brother’s piano recital in Taiwan. When
The melody ends he hitches those fingers up
His partner’s shirt. The crowd gives a standing
Ovation. Backstage I blow bubbles in my mouth.

Blue. Singapore I wasn’t lying when I took her by
The arm and pressed her up against the wall so fast–
It was at the terminal. She was leaving for her
Hometown and I had begged her wildly to take me
With her. Butterflies fluttered around the enclosure
And I wept but my Jumbly girl was gone.

Purple. Indescribable, indispensable and
Other lies we tell ourselves. I come round at a
Crossroads, having been knocked out by the swing of the
Gantry. There is blood in my hair with pink highlights;

I seem to have fainted from standing for too long so
I go home and make myself a cup of milo. Maybe two.


Cheryl Tan is a sixteen-year-old student from Nanyang Girls’ High School. She has participated in the Creative Arts Programme organised by the Ministry of Education, and is currently studying under the poet Mr. Yong Shu Hoong. She enjoys singing and wishing on stars, and can easily be bribed to do things with a mug of hot chocolate. She hopes that Singapore will accept her for who she is someday.

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